Oak and 7th Street Sanctuary
Fall Practice Period
September 9th to November 4th, 2023
With pleasure and anticipation, I invite you to join Patricia Mitchell and I for the 2023
Fall Practice Period. The Practice Period is a special span of time in which Zen practitioners are invited and encouraged to intensify their commitment to Buddhist practice. It is also a time when newcomers can experience Zen teachings through the strength of shared community intention and mutual support. Although we will frequently participate over Zoom, there will be occasions when some of us will be able to gather in person: Here at Oak Street, at 7th Street in Boise and in Portland.
(Find practice period application below this announcement.)
About Practice Period
Historically, Practice Periods were rainy season retreats for monastics and lay people. For the last 2,500 years, intensive training periods have been common in many schools of Buddhism. We, at Oak Street Zendo in San Francisco & 7th Street Zendo in Boise Idaho continue this tradition.
Each year in the spirit of those in monastic practice, we bring dharma practice to the foreground of our lives. We focus on everyday activity: (relationships, work, & regular sitting). Practice Period is also a time of increased community connection, when we can bear witness to each other’s lives and our shared experience of living and working together.
Our theme for Fall PP will be: Aging as a Spiritual Practice. Our study will refer to several current works on Aging by Lew Richmond, Sue Moon, and Kathleen Singh. Given the demographics of our membership, these topics will be timely for most of us. Whether we have been practicing for years or are just beginners – how do we keep our aspiration fresh and alive with the passage of time, and as we age?
Our Practice Period features a student who serves as Shuso (Head Student), sharing responsibility and assisting me in supporting our Practice. In addition to full participation in the practice schedule, the Shuso gives several talks and hosts group gatherings.
This 2023 Fall Practice Period Shuso is Patricia Mitchell. She has been practicing with the San Francisco Zen Center and Oak Street Sangha for many years. Patricia received Lay Ordination (Jukai) from Christina Lehnherr in 2007. Priest Ordination in 2016 with Christina Lehnherr and Cynthia Kerr.
There are many ways to engage with our Practice Period. Participants commit to a schedule which fits their circumstances, attempting to include as many of the sittings, gatherings, and ceremonies as practical. One's involvement should be balanced: supportive of your practice and others, without being burdensome. During this time, you might choose to add more scheduled periods of zazen to your week or make a commitment to attend several of the offered retreats and teas. Taking on a new practice relationship, or meeting more regularly in practice discussion with the teacher would also be appropriate. The Practice Period will also offer each participant a partner, with whom we make efforts to maintain contact and a relationship.
Ultimately, we each should decide how we might deepen our commitment. Being clear about this will allow you to receive the benefits of the practice period, rather than experience it as additional demand or burden. Regardless of how busy you think you are; I encourage you to join and participate as completely as your life and practice allow.
All are welcome
We value the flexibility and freshness of the beginner’s mind in Zen practice. If you are new to Zen (or meditation practice in general) and are looking for a supportive way to enter Buddhist practice, we invite you to participate.
Practice Period Activities
Opening Ceremony & Retreat
Practice Period starts with our monthly All Day Sitting including the PP Opening and Shuso Entering Ceremony on Saturday, September 9th, from 8:30 AM to 2:30 PM Pacific Time.
Group Meditation (Zazen)
Our regular morning and evening zazen schedule will continue over Zoom. Currently we sit together at 5:25 and 6:00 AM, every morning, with the exception of Saturday. We also sit evenings at 7 PM on Monday and Thursday evenings (Pacific Time.) There will be introductions to the forms of sitting Zazen and Zendo practice. All these activities can be accessed through the following link: HERE:
Half Day Sitting Retreats
We will have 3 All Day Sittings over the course of the Practice Period. Each retreat day includes 6 periods of Zazen and walking meditation. An invitation and schedule will be distributed prior to each Half Day Sitting. The schedule also includes a Dharma Talk and conversation, noon service, lunch break, afternoon Zazen and/or Dharma Study and a closing service. All Practice Period members are encouraged to attend these retreats, which will include key ceremonies and group participation to support the community and our practice.
Saturday Morning Study Group: This weekly event begins with a short meditation period at 8 AM Pacific time, followed by reading and discussion. The primary texts used during the Practice Period will be confirmed shortly. The link will be the same as our morning and evening sitting. As time permits, Patricia may provide other sources to supplement the two primary references.
Shuso Talks: The Shuso will give two formal talks. The first will be a traditional Way Seeking Mind Talk. The second talk will consider the theme of the Practice Period: Practicing with Limitations & Aging.
Tea with the Shuso: Participants are invited to attend tea in small groups or individually with the Shuso, to discuss practice and get to know each other more informally. Zoom connections will be our primary mode, outside of groups at One Day Sittings.
Practice Partners : A sangha partner is a person with whom you speak on the phone or in person several times during the Practice Period. Your request for a specific person will be considered, but partners will be determined by myself and Shuso.
Closing Retreat & Ceremony: Practice Period ends with a day long sitting and Shuso Inquiry Ceremony on Saturday, November 4th. This traditional ceremony allows the Shuso to respond to questions from Practice Period participants and invited guests, in an exchange known as dharma dialogue.
Aging as a Spiritual Practice - Lew Richmond
Every Breath, New Changes - Lew Richmond
Alive Until You’re Dead - Susan Moon
The Grace of Aging - Kathleen Dowling Singh
The Gift of Years - Joan Chittister
Trust in Mind: Commentary on the Xinxin Ming - Mu Soeng
Calendar of Events
Saturday, September 9th: All Day Sitting, PP Opening & Shuso Entering Ceremony and Way Seeking Mind Talk
Monday through Sunday, NIC Saturday :5:30 or 6 to 7 AM Morning Zazen
Monday, Tuesday & Thursday Evenings: 7 to 7:30 PM (Pacific) Evening Zazen
Saturday morning 8 to 9:30 AM Sitting and Study Class Discussion
September 23rd: Tea with the Shuso: On Zoom: time & place to be confirmed.
Saturday, October 7th All Day Retreat Including 2nd Shuso Talk
Saturday November 4th: All Day Sitting including Shuso Inquiry &
PP Closing Ceremony
Once you have decided to participate, please enroll by filling out the Practice Period Commitment Form (which is located on the Oak Street Website) . We ask you to put in writing your intentions and let us know what activities you plan to attend. By making your commitment explicit, putting it in your calendar and showing up, you are honoring yourself and your commitment to practice. The deadline for joining the Practice Period and submitting your form is Friday, September 7th, 2023.
Your timely response will allow Patricia and I to consider and determine partners for the Practice Period. Your partner will give additional opportunities to share challenges and support each other during our time together.
There is a suggested $100 donation for joining the Practice Period. Our sangha is also very pleased to offer up to 75% scholarships for those who would appreciate support. Our intention is to encourage donations regardless of size.
Thank you very much,
Peter van der Sterre
& Patricia Mitchell
Oak and 7th Street Sanctuary